What is the relationship between art and nature.This is very important question for every artist,because the artist does not see things as they are, but as he is.
Suppose a man stands on a sea beach to watch sunset of nature. He will observe the ripples on the surface of the sea, the gliding boats and sails, if any, sea-bathers and the host of merry-makers who flock there at that hour. All these moving objects will be seen against the rich background of the shifting riot of colour on the horizon. At any one particular moment his eye will observe only a part of this prospect,though he may move his gaze from one part to another and try to survey the whole scene. Now if he carries a camera and is fond of nature photography, he might be attracted to capture the beauty of the scene in a series of snapshots.
Now let us presume that he is back home and is looking at his snapshots. A camera faithfully depicts the objects and scenes to which its sensitive lens is exposed. Everything that comes within its focus is photographed. The camera lens is an inanimate machine which, therefore, does not know how to pick and choose.Every detail, ugly or attractive, is captured by it. And yet a particular photograph or snapshot represents only a certain section of the prospect to which the photographer directed the machine. Thus though the camera reproduces the natural scene faithfully, it does not and cannot represent the whole of it. Which particular aspect or view of the scene is worth photographing depends on the choice, the mental attitude of the man using the camera. Thus even in a photograph the external world is presented not exactly as it is but through the selective vision of the man who handles the camera. The reality of the sunset is presented not in purely objective manner but, to a certain, as it appears to the photographer. The photographer reflects the sunset mental aspect of the photographer.
Now if the sunset on the sea beach is watched by a painter md and photographer, the reactions would be far different. The photographer uses a. machine for his picture. His mind does, of course, work, but its operation is limited. Once he has selected a certain angle and focussed his lens the rest is done in the twinkling of an eye by the Machine. The painter’s work is of a different order. He uses a pencil or a brush and does the whole thing from beginning to end himself. His work is slow and difficult, but it has one great advantage, viz., he can shape his picture at every stage of its production and thus make it Skit his taste as he likes.
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He has consequently much greater freedom to pick and choose the details of the scene he is painting. He is unlike the photographer, not compelled to reproduce every detail of the Landscape he has seen. The sunset is like a piece of soft day which he may would into any shape he pleases. The painter’s material is more plastic and flexible and hence affords greater opportunity for the exercise of the painter’s imagination. His picture of the sunset is not a literal transcript of reality, but it is reality seen through the glowing colours of his imagination. The painter’s production is a work of art, the photographer’s snapshot is a bare machine product.
All art derives its inspiration from nature, i.e., the external world, the reality which can be perceived through the senses. A flaming sunset, a lovely rose, a winning smile, the innocent laughter of children, the grief of a broken-hearted lover, the pathos of a premature death—all these and many more are subjects which awaken an artist—a poet, a painter or musician—into activity. When we see a fine painting representing beautiful flowers or read a poem about the charms of a maiden, we experience a certain thrill of pleasure. Why? Neither the flowers nor the pretty maiden is before us, and yet we experience the same emotions as we will if they were. Thus art is a reflection of reality, which in a wider sense, is known as nature.
The sun, the moon, the stars, and the hundreds of other lovely as well terrible objects or nature as also the various human emotions—love and hatred joy and sorrow, jealousy and fear—have existed from time immemorial and inspired artists in every age and clime. There are countless paintings immortalizing the beauty of the female form as also numerous poem in honour of love—the strongest emotion of the human heart. And yet no two such paintings or two such poems are identical. Even if two poets and two painters see the same object, say a red rose, and glorify it in colour and verse, their productions, though inspired by the same subject, would be very different from each other. One poet may go into raptures over the loveliness of the flower, while the other may shed tears over its transitory beauty. Wordsworth finds the daffodils a source of joy:
“For oft, when on my couch I lie In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.”
The same flower, on the other hand, fills the heart of Herrick with sorrow:
“Fair Daffodils, we weep to see You haste away so soon;
As yet the early rising Sun Has not attained his noon.”
The reason for these divergent reaction is that art does not represent the purely external aspect of an object or event but the impressions produced upon the mind of the artist by them. Art is, therefore, an imaginative representation of nature or reality.
Nature or reality has countless aspects and no single work of art can represent all of them at a time. Secondly, all that we see in the external world is not necessarily beautiful or attractive enough for the artist. A work of art, be it a poem, a painting or a melody is essentially a thing of beauty. The artist creates beauty even where he does not find it or, to be more precise. He opens a new angle of vision through which one sees beauty where formerly one did not find it. The artist thus exercises the liberty of selection and omission. He selects what is and can be beautiful, rejects what, in his opinion, cannot produce the impression of beauty. A painter would omit unattractive details in a landscape and may even invent new ones to make it ideally beautiful This liberty exercised by the artist is known as idealization, i.e., the unconscious criticism of nature by the human mind. Hence, works of ire often more effective than naked, unvarnished nature.
The highest form of art is literature and poetry is the noblest literary creations. Literature is the language of imagination or ion. The poet transfuses reality with the colours of his creative imagination. Shakespeare has well said.
“The poet’s eye in a fine frenzy rolling.
Doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven.
And, as imagination bodies forth
The forms of things unknown, the poet’s pen
Turns them into shapes, and gives to airy nothing A local habitation and name.”
In poetry and for that matter, in other forms of literature and one does not look for historical or scientific truth. What art presence is not the truth of logic or fact but the truth of idea. The characters a novelist or a dramatist creates may not have any existence except in the mind of their creator, yet they are as real as or even /more real than the men and women who actually lived and died in the world. “The masters of creative literature, writes Worsfold,” have made regions of their own which they have peopled with the children of their genius. Homer has given us an Aegean of sun-lit islands and purple seas? Dante a dark and mysterious inferno; Milton a garden of Eden: Shakespeare an Elizabethan England with landscapes more brightly hued and men and women more finely real than the landscapes or the people of the England of Elizabeth I; Moliere a France more natural and more vivid than the France of the Grand marque.’
idealization is the birthright of the artist, but it raises the significant issue whether the artist can sacrifice truth in the interests of art. Obviously no work of art can be great and lasting, if it deliberately distorts truth and is a direct negation of reality. Anything which is contrary to nature cannot be artistic. It may be a freakish or fantastic creation but not a work of art. However, what is required in art is not the truth of fact but the truth of idea. For instance, what the essayist, the writer of travel books or the poet gives is not pure description but representation of facts as he finds them. He tells us not so much what he sees or learns as thoughts and feelings which the scene of natural objects or his contacts with other men produced in his mind.
The artist concentrates on essential and not literal truth and the truth of art is often the fruit of the mingling of the personal experience of the artist and that of the universal experience of mankind. “If we wish to get an idea, of the supreme devotion which is produced by the passion of love, we do not think of the engagement and marriage of one of our acquaintances but of the story of Romeo and Juliet; our idea of devotion of a woman’s ideal of duty is based upon the conduct of the Antigone of Sophoeles; our idea of knightly duty upon the Arthur of the “Idylls of the King”. The truth of idea which is thus attained in the works of the great poetic masters is in a certain sense superior to the truth of history or biography, or of any mere transcript from reality. “The reason is that poetic truth epitomizes the experiences of the human race.” And so Aristotle says, “poetry has a wider truth and a higher aim than history; for poetry deals rather with the universal history than with the particular.” Or it becomes as Wordsworth says, “the breath and finer spirit of knowledge.”
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There is, however, a limit to the process of idealization enjoyed and exercised by the artist. In the early stages of human art and literature,idealization reigned supreme. Poetic justice, for instance, governed the theme of most plays and stories. The virtuous were always rewarded and the wicked punished. In other words, literature was too romantic. However as time passed, it was felt that art should outlive the stage of the fairy tale and the poet should come out of his isolated ivory tower and see drab reality as well. Hence the birth of realistic literature such as the novels of George Gissing, Balzac, Zola and the works of some of the ultra-realists of the 20th century. The works of James Joyce, Virginia Woolf and their followers are realising with a vengeance. Nothing is too ugly or prosaic for them. They strive to put everything, all the countless aspects of reality, into their representations.
Ulysses, for instance, is a tale in 700 pages of the doing of a law, Mr. Bloom during the course of a single hot day in June in Dublin. All his external activities, conscious and subconscious reactions, thoughts and feelings are put almost pell-mell into this monumental work. Marcel Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past is a work of a similar nature. These are instance of the extreme and even ridiculous limits to which the passion for realism can lead an Anybody who reads these novels will feel that they are indeed monumental productions, but certainly not works of the highest type They may, at best, be described as an artistic demonstration of paradoxical maxim that there is method even in madness.
The modern poet will glorify the ale of an office clerk, a factory hand, a victim of atomic explosion, an overworld taxi driver but if he wishes to make his poem thing of beauty he will endow his representation of these themes with the soft of his imagination. Reality will be reflected through the idealizing vision of the poet and thus art will continue to be a presentation of nature: through the colours of human imagination. Art is and will be man added to nature.